Friday, May 13, 2016

Featured Gun: The Ruger Blackhawk Buckeye Special

The Buckeye is the state tree of Ohio (the Aesculus glabra)...Ohio is known as the "Buckeye State" is also the name of the Ohio State University sports teams. 
 The mascot of the Ohio State Buckeyes is Brutus the Buckeye, his head is a Buckeye chestnut

The Buckeye tree drops its seed in the form of a large chestnut.

Once upon a time, Buckeye Sports of Canton Ohio, was a major distributor of Ruger Firearms and like many Ruger distributors they wanted some exclusive models.
Why am I telling you this? Simply to explain where the name for the Ruger Buckeye Special came from. 

There certainly could be some confusion considering Ruger has used the name "Hawkeye" for at least a couple of models of firearms.
Hawkeye is a reference to the eagle or hawk on the Ruger logo, not the University of Iowa sports team(s) or any Iowa distributors.

In December of 1988, Buckeye Sports of Ohio and Ruger announced a special run of 5000 New Model Blackhawks in a special caliber....32. The two cylinders that came with the gun were chambered in .32 H&R Magnum and .32-20 Winchester.
Both the cartridges fire a .312 diameter bullet.

The .32 H&R Magnum was, according to most experts, designed to replicate the power and performance of the original .32-20 (black powder cartridge), but it actually exceeds it (in a pistol anyway). I suppose the reason for both chamberings is the ability to use .32-20 ammo from the Winchester or Marlin lever action in your revolver or perhaps it is simply for the nostalgia factor.

the .32 H&R Magnum & .32-20 Winchester:
Cowboy Action Shooting was on the rise in the late 80's and that could have been the impetus. This makes sense as the following year Ruger produced another Buckeye Special in .40 caliber with cylinders chambered in 10mm and 38-40. 

Rumor has it that folks who ordered the original 32 caliber Buckeye were offered the chance to purchase a .40 caliber Buckeye Special with serial numbers matching their .32 (the serial numbers did however carry a different prefix of 611).

The guns came built on the standard New Model (44 sized) frame with a 6.5" barrel. What made them special was the steel grip frame and ejector rod housing. Parts that would normally be made of anodized aluminum on a "run of the mill" Blackhawk.
The finishing touch was the engraving on the top strap of the gun, the leaf of the Aesculus glabra, aka: the Ohio Buckeye tree. The grips were the standard Ruger Walnut, the finish was blue, but had higher polish applied to the metal

They carried the part number S-32X. Every one had the serial number prefix of 610, beginning with number 610-00001 and presumably ending with 610-05000. I did find an auction for one that bares the serial number 610-05197, I also found the owner of number 610-05198 on a Ruger Forum.
According to the Red Eagle News Exchange the last production serial number is somewhere between 5000 and 5500. 
At least one expert tells me there were 5032 units shipped with the last known serial number being 610-05198.

To confuse matters further, the first 200 or so were shipped with the boxes incorrectly marked as Single Six Convertibles with part # SSM-6X, the error was corrected and the remaining revolvers were shipped correctly marked as S-32X Blackhawks.

My Father purchased this gun from the dealer who received it in 1990, it is new and unfired. 

The shipping carton

 The gun box, just a typical Ruger yellow box


The gun came shipped with the usual paperwork and a green bag containing the extra .32 H&R Magnum cylinder, instead of the usual red bag.

The .32-20 Winchester cylinder was installed in the gun

and the .32 H&R Magnum cylinder, which shows no sign of ever being installed

The special insignia making this the "Buckeye Special".

At one time Bianchi produced these holsters just for the Buckeye Specials

An unavoidable topic when discussing collector firearms....value. So what is this gun worth?

I searched the online auction sites and found the following:

In 2012 an unfired Buckeye Special (serial #15) was listed for $2,490, it apparently did not sell.

Cabela's has one in their Library listed at $749, the description says "appears unfired"

A used one sold in 2015 for $682 on Gun Auction

Collectors Firearms has four for sale, new and used ranging from $399 to $750

Another one on Proxi-bid sold for $900

Another one on Gun Auction that sold for $725 in 2008, it was listed as NRA Excellent

I have seen other ones on forums selling for $650 to $1000

I did not look it up on the "Blue Book of Gun Values" as they charge a minimum of $3.00 for the service.

So I would venture that this gun is worth somewhere between $850 & $1,000.

If you want one of these and cannot find one, you can have one built. Most of the Ruger Blackhawk gunsmiths will gladly build you one.
This one was built by Bowen Classic Arms, they used a New Model 50th Anniversary Blackhawk as the basis 

They also built one using a Freedom Arms revolver 

You may also know that Ruger made a Single Six chambered in .32 H&R Magnum (as well as a Vaquerito) and the currently produce one in .327 Federal Magnum.

They did not chamber the Single Six in .32-20 however. The cylinder and window are not quite long enough for standard, factory .32-20 cartridges.

John Taffin Six Guns
Ruger Forum